Part I: Intro to Rooibos and Honeybush

Introduction

Rooibos (roy-boss), also known as ‘African red tea’ or ‘red bush tea’, is native to South Africa. Growrooibos bushn in the mountainous region of Cederberg, for centuries natives have used this plant for its taste and health benefits. Considered a ‘tisane’, as it does not derive from the traditional Camillia sinensis plant, Rooibos is naturally without caffeine and has a sweet, nutty flavor. Rooibos is commonly oxidized, giving it the signature red color of the leaves. However, leaves left unoxidized are known as ‘green Rooibos’ with a malty, grassy flavor different from traditional Rooibos. A cousin to Rooibos, Honeybush is also found in South Africa. Named for its honey smelling flowers, Honeybush has a similar but sweeter taste than Rooibos.

Rooibos Plant

History

For centuries, the Khosian tribe or bushmen of South Africa harvested and used Rooibos as a remedy for many ailments. Their same methods of harvesting and processing the tea are used today with improved technology. In the 1700s, Dutch Settlers came to South Africa and botanist Carl Humberg rediscovered the Rooibos bush, sparking its popularity to settlers missing their tea from home. Then in the early 1900s, Russian tea merchant Benjamin Ginsberg, cultivated Rooibos and exported it to the masses. Later during World War II, importing teas from Asia became more difficult and Rooibos became a popular alternative, however the high cost of Rooibos seeds made it difficult to buy. Finally, in the late 1960s Annique Theron wrote of the health benefits associated with Rooibos and Honeybush expanded their popularity.

Rooibos Health BenefitsOrganic Rooibos

Many health benefits are attributed to Rooibos. After all, it was first drunk for a variety of aliments. Modern science has only started determining its direct affect on health. Headaches, insomnia, asthma, hypertension, and allergies all have been said to be soothed by drinking Rooibos. WebMD reports that they are high in antioxidants which is said to prevent cancer, boost immunity and slow aging process. In 2010, an article in the journal of Public Health Nutrition showed that Rooibos lowered blood pressure which decreases hypertension and lowers heart disease risk. Research has shown no side effects associated with Rooibos and is considered safe for children and pregnant women.

Find a variety of flavors of Rooibos and Honeybush online or in the lounge. Try a Rooibos latte style or try one of our CRAFTeas in the lounge like our Tiramisu Amaretto to satisfy your Rooibos craving!

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Japanese Tea Part 3: Gyokuro Green Tea

Gyokuro: IntroductionJapanese Gyokuro Green Tea

Gyokuro is a Japanese green tea that translates to mean “Jade Dew”, reflecting the brewed tea’s pale green color. It is of the most expensive tea in Japan and is considered to be of the highest grade. Unlike Sencha, Gyokuro is shaded from the sun before it is harvested. Normally shaded for three weeks, this process increases the theanine and chlorophyll in the tea giving it its signature sweet flavor. The leaves for Gyokuro are a dark green color after harvested. Once brewed the tea has a sweet, soft marine- like and nutty flavor that tickles the fifth taste bud, umami!

Gyokuro’s History

Gyokuro’s history begins in the Edo period, in 1835. Yamamoto Kahei the Sixth, traveled to the Uji region of Japan to study their tea processes. While there, he loved the taste of the teas he consumed. After returning home, he attempted to recreate the process and was unable to replicate the sweet taste and process. Unsuccessful in recreating the tea, he did however create a different kind of tea known as tamanotsuyu. In 1841, Eguchi Shigejuro was able to recreate the process by covering the leaves and completed the process of making Gyokuro as we know it today.

Umami?

We have all learned about sweet, salty, sour and bitter, but there is a new kid on the block. Umami as a flavor distinct from all the others and was adopted scientifically in 1985. This flavor is described as richness in flavor. This adds another whole dimension to tea since American’s typically think tea is just bitter! The very best Gyokuro that we tried has so much umami and tasted so creamy that we thought we were drinking a latte. In addition to drinking Gyokuro for its health benefits and taste, many consume the leaves after steeping either as a salad with soy sauce and lemon juice or adding them to meals like stir fry!

Gyokuro is available at Short and Stout Tea Lounge everyday as well as for purchase in our online store. Give this delicacy a try and let us know what you think!

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Introduction to Japanese Tea: Part 2

Japanese Sencha Cup and Pot

Sencha Overview

Japanese Sencha is the most popular tea in Japan. This tea is grown in direct sunlight, unlike other common Japanese green teas like gyokuro or tencha which produces matcha. Sencha is harvested early which is also called the first flush. After harvest, Japanese teas are steamed to prevent oxidation. Oxidation is a process that browns the tea and affects the taste. Some teas require oxidation but for Sencha it is important to prevent. Unlike Chinese tea, Japanese tea is steamed to avoid oxidation where Chinese teas are pan fried. After steaming, the tea leaves begin to take their shape. They are rolled and dried into their recognizable needle shape.

What’s it like?

As for Sencha’s characteristics, Sencha has a grassy smell and is often reminiscent of the ocean. Sencha tastes sweet and grassy. It has a smooth flavor that makes it a very easy to drink green tea. To brew Japanese Sencha, it is important to use water heated just before boiling. It is recommended for green teas to use 1 teaspoon per 8 oz. and steep it for three minutes. The ideal color of Sencha when brewed is a greenish gold. However, as with all teas this is just a guideline and can be adjusted based on individual taste.

Let me try it!

At Short and Stout, Japanese Sencha is available both with caffeine and decaffeinated. The Decaf Organic Sencha at Short and Stout is very similar in taste to the caffeinated version however its color is much lighter due to the decaffeinating process. Sencha is great on its own, but at Short and Stout there are other ways to taste Sencha. As a very common green tea it makes up many of the flavored green teas we carry. Popular Sweet Pear’s main ingredient is Sencha and has other flavors like pear and mango to compliment it. Buy these teas online or stop in to the lounge and taste what 80% of Japan is producing for their tea market!

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Yerba Mate part II: The Ceremony

Yerba Mate derives from South America and is especially popular in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Similarly, guayusa also derives from South America and is very popular in Ecuador.  A common way to consume both yerba mate and guayusa is in a gourd ceremony.

Gourd Ceremony            yerba mate

The yerba mate gourd ceremony is a symbol of hospitality and friendship. These very social events bring groups together and traditionally stories and legends were shared at this event. To begin a cebador or a mate server prepares the mate for the group. The most important role of the cebador in preparing the mate is making sure that the mate is properly steeped resulting in a rich and smooth tasting brew. Each person drinks from the gourd through a straw filter called a bombilla. There is no rush to finish the gourd and when the recipient has had enough they say gracias (thank you) indicating that they are finished. The cebador refills the gourd as needed and it continues to be passed until the mate is lavado (flat).  The trick to drinking the yerba mate in this way is not to move the bombilla once the mate has been prepared.

Guayusa Ceremony

Similar to the yerba mate gourd ceremony, the guayusa ceremony brings groups together. For thousands of years, Ecuadorian families have woken up early and share the gourd, sharing stories and legends around the fire. Hunters would drink guayusa before nighttime hunting trips allowing them to focus and get closer to the environment around them, guayusa is nicknamed “The Night Watchman” for this reason. In our third and final yerba mate blog series, the legends and stories evolved from both yerba mate and guayusa will be explored!

It is fascinating to learn that regardless of the continent, tea and in this case tisane ceremonies are important rituals for cultures. In our busy lives shouldn’t we too take time to continue a ritual of tea.

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Tea Spotlight for Valentine’s Day

Tea for Two, Two for Tea. What could be more romantic than sharing a steaming pot of tea with

Tea Gift Box

your loved one? This Valentine’s Day, let’s flout convention. Let’s forget the fancy wine, ditch the bottle of bubbly, and set our kettles boiling. Tea warms hearts and melds spirits. Sharing a teapot and filling each other’s cups are intimate acts of understated elegance, echoing centuries of ceremony.

In the spotlight this month are two Short and Stout teas ideal for celebrating Valentine’s Day, be they for sharing with a significant other or simply to enjoy solo. (Let us not forget the importance of self-love.)

Midnight Rose Black Tea

First Whiff: Pure potpourri. Strong, floral, and heady.

Prep: Add 2 tsp per 8 oz of boiling water. Steep for 3 to 5 minutes.

First Sip: True to its name, this tea tastes like a rose garden. Black tea makes an ideal base for rosehip and rose petal, rounding out the floral tones and lending a fragrant, full-bodied flavor. Some sippers may deem Midnight Rose too rosy for their tastebuds, in which case, sweetener should help temper the intensity. Take it to the next level with a touch of milk or cream.

Champagne Fizz White Tea

First Whiff: Enticing and sweet, with hints of grape.

Prep: Add 1.5 tsp per 8 oz of hot (175-degree) water. Steep for 3 to 5 minutes.

First Sip: So light! So airy! This white tea provides the perfect contrast to darker, headier Midnight Rose. Berry and floral notes mingle in perfect harmony. For strongest flavor, steep for the full five minutes. Delightful by itself or with honey.

 

Midnight Rose, Champagne Fizz, and more are available for purchase in pre-wrapped Valentine’s gift boxes at our tea lounge. Add a selection of our tasty French macarons, and you have yourself the perfect Tea for Two.

This Valentine’s Day, all you need is love…and a cup of tea.

 

TEA

I like pouring your tea, lifting
the heavy pot, and tipping it up,
so the fragrant liquid streams in your china cup.

Or when you’re away, or at work,
I like to think of your cupped hands as you sip,
as you sip, of the faint half-smile of your lips.

I like the questions – sugar? – milk? –
and the answers I don’t know by heart, yet,
for I see your soul in your eyes, and I forget.

Jasmine, Gunpowder, Assam, Earl Grey, Ceylon,
I love tea’s names. Which tea would you like? I say
but it’s any tea for you, please, any time of day,

as the women harvest the slopes
for the sweetest leaves, on Mount Wu-Yi,
and I am your lover, smitten, straining your tea.

― Carol Ann Duffy

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Tea Spotlight: Choco-Mint Fantasy Rooibos

With the holiday season comes a flood of familiar, feel-good flavors: foamy eggnog, spicy mulled cider, piquant gingerbread…and of course, the magical marriage between chocolate and peppermint.

Choco Mint Fantasy Rooibos

Choco Mint Fantasy Rooibos

At Short and Stout, our Choco Mint Fantasy flavored tisane will satisfy any pallet that appreciates the refreshing richness of chocolate mint. An organic rooibos-based infusion featuring real peppermint and cocoa beans, this tea reflects the decadence of a Peppermint Mocha without the caffeine kick.

First Whiff: Cool and rich, just like an Andes Mint.

First Sip: Smooth, gentle, yet delectable. Chocolate and mint can be tricky to balance, but in the case of Choco Mint Fantasy, neither flavor overpowers the other. Cacao gives the drink its depth, while peppermint adds subtle brightness. The blend’s yogurt bits lend a barely perceptible milky quality.

Brewing a cup of Choco Mint Fantasy requires no fuss. Simply add 1.5 teaspoons per 8 oz of boiling water. Steep for 7 minutes to achieve optimal choco-mint deliciousness. Spend those 7 minutes reveling in eager anticipation.

In the mood for a sweet, creamy, and energizing version? Try our latte-style Choco Mint Warmer (or Chiller, if you prefer iced). To create this specialty latte-style drink, we use our Chocolate Fix black tea mixed with peppermint, add foamed milk (or non-dairy milk) and sweetener, and top it all off with crumbled peppermint candy and a sprig of fresh mint. The result is a beautiful drink guaranteed to fill the grumpiest of humbugs with holiday spirit.

If enjoying your Choco Mint Fantasy or Choco Mint Warmer/Chiller at our tea lounge, consider pairing with our seasonal White Chocolate Peppermint or Gingerbread macaron to complete the experience.

Choco Mint Fantasy, along with a variety of teas and a quality selection of tea accessories, are available at our online shop. Find the perfect holiday gift for the tea-lover in your life, or discover ideas for your own wish list!

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Pu-erh a Perfect Flavor for Fall

Since the change in seasons, my tea preference has changed. I am now navigating to something more rich, robust and yet less bite. Pu-erh has been my drink of choice for the past few weeks.

Simply put, Pu-erh (Pooh-Air) is an aged black tea. When we think of black tea we typically think of bitter and harsh. The aging process affects tea just like a couple of days affects stew. That is all the sharp flavors mellow into a nice smooth wholesome broth. The same holds true for aged Pu-erh.

Digging deeper into the history and process there are two types of Pu-erh. The most traditional Raw Pu-erh uses tea from the Yunnan Province in Southern China. The un-aged tea is very bitter so the aging process was born out of necessity for drinkability and storage. Raw Pu-erh is packed in compressed disks called cakes and aged a minimum of 15 years. These leaves hold up to several infusions and is often used in Gong Fu which is a Chinese method of preparing tea utilizing many infusions.

Ripe Pu-erh is a product of the modern age. This tea is typically found in loose form and produced by using moisture controlled rooms to speed up the aging process. Ripe Pu-erh can reach drinkability in 5 years. The downside is that Ripe Pu-erh tends to be generic in flavor where Raw will have more variability from cake to cake.

So whether you knew about Pu-erh or not hopefully you’ve learned something about this very important tea category.

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What is Bubble Tea?

Bubble Tea Anatomy

Bubble Tea Anatomy

Some people who come into the shop and ask “What is Bubble Tea, anyway?”  The item on the menu catches their eye because they have heard of it, but never actually seen it. First a little history before I get into the details. Bubble tea is an up and coming drink that is established on the West Coast and some urban areas on the West Coast. Bubble Tea or more traditionally called Boba Tea originates from Taiwan. The boba or bubbles has nothing to do with fizz, but rather tapioca pearls. Wait…What? tapioca in a drink? Exactly and that is what makes Bubble Tea different from any other drink you’ve had before.

The way we describe Bubble Tea is to say it is a melted milkshake which comes in flavors like black tea, green tea, blueberry, almond, honeydew, coconut, mango, pineapple, strawberry, red bean and my favorite taro. So if sweet and creamy fruit flavored melted milkshake isn’t enough, at the bottom of the drink reside tapioca pearls. They taste like soft gummy bears. You drink this drink using an extra wide straw to make sure you get a healthy does of the tea and pearls all at once.

So yes, it is a polarizing drink where people are either addicted to it or they can’t get past the combination of textures. For those that try it are usually rewarded with a new favorite drink.

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Observations of the Coffee and Tea Fest NYC in Brooklyn March 22, 2015

There was a very broad range of vendors from standard tea bag retailers to those who import tea from their family’s owned tea estates. The later appealed more to us. There was a vendor who imported Chinese teas from ancient trTea Festivalees. Most of the regions that she was sampling are those that I never heard of and although they were black tea they were so distinctively different. Her set up was beautiful with full gong fu cha service. Another Chinese vendor was sampling and selling ripe pu-erh that that was 40 years old. A pair of Japanese ladies donning traditional Japanese kimono were preparing green tea. They specifically varied the temperature of their water from different extremes depending on the green tea type.

There were two Formosa tea purveyors who source their tea directly from Taiwan. One has family roots their and the other creates his own connections by backpacking in the Taiwanese wilderness. The newest trends in Formosa and oolongs as a whole are lighter oxidation. One philanthropist all of 25 years old works with Kenyan Estates and all her profits go to education of orphans.

The highlight was meeting a world renowned author and taster. He said to us that 10 years ago there were only 5 tea vendors out of 60 total, now there are more tea vendors than coffee. After those parting words we then hit 4 or 5 tea cafes in the city. In the end, we were all happy to gain greater depth of something we are already very passionate about.

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